Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.
Thirty-four years into musical marriage, Jeff Harnar and Alex Rybeck epitomize fertile affinity. Both artists continue to grow while playing off one another with the kind of secret language of long time couples. This is evident even in the revival of a 2000 Firebird Cafe show which emerges timeless. (The original CD is available.)
Sammy Cahn (1913-1933) né Samuel Cohen (no relation) put more words into the mouth of Frank Sinatra than any other lyricist. In addition to hit parade songs, he wrote films and musicals garnering 26 Academy Award nominations, four Oscars, and an Emmy. Listening to Cahn is like spending time with an old friend.
After a brief overture, Harnar begins with the iconic “All the Way” (music-James Van Heusen), his voice full, rich, unwavering. A 1950s arrangement of “Teach Me Tonight” (music-Gene De Paul), riding on finger snaps and bowed bass, gives the vocalist opportunity to duet with Rybeck using startling falsetto of which he’s apparently fond. Teach me- do-do-ten-do-do-do, he sings hopefully while sax loops around phrasing.
A tender “It’s Magic” (Jule Styne) – eyebrows rise on the second word – emerges with music box piano and skating flute. Harnar seems besotted. “I’ll Never Stop Loving You” (music & lyrics Nicolas Brodsky/Sammy Cahn) showcases mindful bass, ardent piano and the vocalist’s sincerity with ballads. Both were written for Doris Day films. Intermittent patter here is light, informative.
Other engaging serenades include “I Fall in Love Too Easily” (music & lyrics Jule Styne/ Sammy Cahn) and “I’ll Always Miss Her When I Think of Her”…and I’ll think of her all the time… (music-James Van Heusen.) The first, with a 3am-mellow-sax intro, finds Harnar reflective. …I fall in love (pause) too terribly hard…he reminds himself with a sigh, perched on what might be a bar stool. Every sentiment is convincing.
Three Sinatra hits written with James Van Heusen bounce in with infectious feel-good attitude. Snapped fingers, cool bass, and teasing flute like a backstroking Disney bird freshen “Come Fly With Me,” here, a tempting invitation. During “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” Harnar practically emits bubbles. For “Tender Trap,” he’s a wide-eyed ingénue. Honestly. Adorable. On stage movement and gestures are minimal, easy, appropriate. The performer is at home up there, engaging his audience with warmth and skill.
A World War II medley with Rybeck and Egan joining Harnar’s vocals was, for me, a highlight. The three of them plus whomever should do a show comprised of these and other selections. Though “Saturday Night” …is the loneliest night of the week…(music-Jule Styne) is a bit smiley for its lyrics, the other three selections are pitch-perfect.
A plaintive “I’ll Walk Alone” (music-Jule Styne) would’ve captured the heart of every woman waiting for her fella to come home. “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen…Means That You’re Grand” (Sholem Secunda/Sammy Cahn & Saul Chaplin) with one of the best vocal arrangements I’ve heard of this, is irresistibly spirited. By “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” (music-Jule Styne), the artist has us in the palm of his hand. “Everybody sing!” he encourages, and we do.
Caveat: One might easily do without “Everybody Has a Right To Be Wrong,” a wordy monologue written for that singing fool, Julie Harris.” (music- James Van Heusen for Skyscraper, a show one critic called “Floor Scraper.”)
We close with a rendition of “Time After Time” (music-Jule Styne) –piano creating figure-eights, that embraces the room (another splendid vocal arrangement) and “My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)” (music-Jimmy Van Heusen) in jubilant razzamatazz mode.
This is a real taste of the wonderful Cahn – fastidiously arranged, written, directed, and performed by adroit musicians all of whom appear to be having as good a time as the audience. The urbane Jeff Harnar is in first rate voice.
Show Photos by Maryann Lopinto
Photo of Sammy Cahn- Wikipedia
Jeff Harnar sings Sammy Cahn All The Way
Barry Kleinbort- Director
Alex Rybeck- Music Director
Jered Egan-Bass & back-up vocals, Mark Phaneuf- Sax/Flute
Lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman were both born out of the same Brooklyn hospital into Eastern European families. Despite neighborhood proximity, they didn’t meet until respectively landing in Los Angeles the 1950s. One might call this particular collaboration Kismet.
The married couple has been nominated for 16 Academy Awards garnering three. Their extensive oeuvre also includes, in part, iconic television themes, numbers written for television musicals, a jazz cycle, and widely varied songs popularized by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Barbra Streisand. The Bergmans never found their way to Broadway but tailored to characters in film (Yentl is a prime example) and when writing for a particular vocalist. “We knew enough about him to fit the lyric to his character time and time again,” Alan Bergman once commented about Frank Sinatra.
Today’s Special Guest is critic/biographer/librettist/playwright Terry Teachout. The inimitable David Lahm, Granat’s symbiotic accompanist furnishes eloquent piano.
Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
Host Harvey Granat begins vocal choices with Alan Bergman/Lou Spence’s “That Face,” introduced by Fred Astaire, followed by the Sinatra hit “Nice N’ Easy” credited to Alan Bergman/Marilyn Keith/Lou Spence. Renditions are genial and dancey. Granat’s skilled nonchalance is similar to that of Sinatra. During the second number, he feeds us the lyrics. (The knowledgeable audience often knows songs by heart and are selectively encouraged to sing along.) Teachout suggests we don’t ordinarily think of the Bergmans for a swing tune.
Original placement of familiar songs is something of a revelation. 1967’s “Make Me Rainbows” (music – John Williams) is from what Teachout calls “a justifiably forgotten film” called Fitzwilly.” “If that had been written 10 years earlier,” he continues, “it would have become a standard.” The same year saw original English lyrics for “You Must Believe in Spring” (music – Michel Legrand) from French film The Young Girls of Rochefort: Beneath the deepest snows,/The secret of a rose/Is merely that it knows/You must believe in Spring! …Granat’s version is delicate, poetic, lovely. Teachout declares it the moment the Bergmans became themselves, “the great romantics of the late golden age of songwriting.”
From The Thomas Crown Affair we hear a wistful, resigned “The Windmills of Your Mind” for which composer Michel Legrand apparently wrote five or six melodies. The Bergmans suggested he go to a movie and they’d meet the next morning, whereupon the vote was unanimous. Teachout observes the song is effectively in a minor key “which American popular songs never are.” Lahm adds that the grammar is successfully out of phase with the melody, yet another example of iconoclastic skill.
It turns out that “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” (music – Michel Legrand) was written for an obscure 1969 film called The Happy Ending. Granat’s buttery version is rife with yearning. Teachout remarks that rhymes fall on the next to last words. This particular session of the Granat series is illuminated by more incisive music perceptions than usual due to this guest’s contribution.
In the same lush vein, “Summer Me, Winter Me” arrives with recognition that nouns have become verbs: Summer me, winter me/And with your kisses, morning me, evening me/And as the world slips far away, a star away/Forever me with love…Suddenly, magically/We found each other…Granat sings with surprise and excitement, not disturbing the tenor of the song. During “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” with what Teachout calls “a great lyric for a soured relationship,” Granat appears to be reflecting in real time. (Both music – Michel Legrand)
In 1973, the Bergmans wrote “The Way We Were” (music – Marvin Hamlish). Though the group is invited to sing and clearly know the lyrics, its volume is extremely soft, in order, one suspects, to fully hear the vocalist’s interpretation.
When, as a little girl, Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s daughter was asked what her parents do, she responded “When my mommy and daddy wake up, they drink coffee, go into a room and close the door. Sometimes there’s music, sometimes not. And they get paid for it.” And aren’t we lucky?
I hear a great many vocalists. Not only are these sessions illuminating and fun, but Harvey Granat is one of our most authentic balladeers. Again, a good time is had by all.
Opening photo: Harvey Granat, Terry Teachout, David Lahm Bigstock Photo of Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman at the Grammy Foundation’s Starry Night Gala. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. 07-12-08
Songs and Stories with Harvey Granat: Alan and Marilyn Bergman Special Guest Terry Teachout 92St.Y 92nd and Lexington Avenue Venue Web Site NEXT: May 4 On Dorothy Fields with Special Guest, Field’s son, musician David Lahm
Tony Danza’s return to Feinstein’s/54Below is not based solely on popular recognition. The beloved sitcom star, with only two musicals under his belt, seems at home on a cabaret stage. Danza is personable and funny; his Brooklyn-accented vocals now more nuanced than during 2015’s Honeymoon in Vegas. Style reflects old school entertainment; he swings, scats, taps, tells a few (good) jokes and reminisces never unbuttoning a well cut jacket. (Ten minutes on his family could be successfully cut.)
Brief numbers swing in with easy phrasing. Hands tell the story as much as lyrics. They open wide, fist, and point; fingers splay, thumbs go up, palms turn down. Danza never stops moving. He bounces, walks in place, shifts his shoulders, occasionally kicks (low). Energy translates as the artist’s excitement at being there. It’s appealing.
A story about his mother’s adoration of Frank Sinatra leads into Ervin Drake’s “It Was a Very Good Year.” Perched on a stool, the actor inhabits the song as if it were a scene. Even pauses are focused. We’re so with him that an abrupt mood change jars. (Give it a minute.) “Angel Eyes” (Earl Brent/Matt Dennis) begins with only MD/Arranger John Oddo’s dark, cool piano. Danza puts a hand in his pocket, strolling across the stage with moody gravitas. The innate roughness of his voice enhances.
“John Updike said people who don’t live in New York are just kidding.” Repartee about the city to which Danza has returned is observant and wry. A breezy version of Ralph Freed/Burton Lane’s “How About You?” follows. Sincerity reigns. “The House I Live In –That’s America to Me” (Lewis Allen/Earl Robertson), apparently added tonight, perhaps in response to current politics, is as straight from the hip as it comes and exudes grace. “I Don’t Remember Growing Up” by his friend Artie Butler radiates warmth.
Three songs from Honeymoon in Vegas (Jason Robert Brown) are included. As sweet gangster Tommy Korman, Danza performed two of these in the show. Tonight, he exuberantly offers “I Love Betsy” which was sung by Jack Singer, the congenitally ambivalent other half of the couple concerned. (Betsy is squired away by Tommy in reaction to Jack’s unwillingness to commit.) The number is infectiously happy, aided and abetted by vocal back-up by the band. Danza’s completely believable. He sparks.
Danza accompanies himself on ukulele for the third of these numbers. He then enthusiastically demonstrates styles one can elevate with the diminutive instrument, from a lilting “Nevertheless I’m in Love With You” (Harry Ruby/Bert Kalmar) through a charming 1920s turn to the ersatz pop “Love Potion Number 9” (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller).
The American Songbook is clearly valued by this performer. “Every song we used to listen to growing up was about love,” he muses, “What are these kids gonna hum when they get older?” His approach respects and celebrates tradition. An encore of “Love Is Here to Stay” (Ira and George Gershwin) that “sorta says what we feel about the audience and hopefully how you feel about us” speaks volumes.
Tony Danza captivates.
Dave Shoup-Guitar, John Arbo-Bass, Ed Caccavale- Drums
Frank Sinatra’s Birthday is coming up on December 12. To celebrate, Patsy’s Italian Restaurant is sharing some of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ favorite dishes. Frank Sinatra first met “Patsy” Scognamillo in 1942, and the two shared a lifelong relationship. Whenever Sinatra was in New York, he would often visit the restaurant, usually with his friends. His legacy lives on in the restaurant till this day.
In over 70 years of existence, Patsy’s Italian Restaurant has had only three chefs, the late Patsy himself, his son Joe Scognamillo and Joe’s son Chef Sal Scognamillo, who has been manning the kitchen for the past 30 years. So if you can’t make it to Patsy’s to raise a glass to Frank, you can still cook one of his favorite dishes.
FRANK’S VEAL CUTLETS MILANESE
½ small Italian stale baguette (about ½ pound)
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Pinch of oregano
¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
8 veal cutlets (about 1 ¼ pounds), pounded this to slightly less than ¼ inch
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 lemon cut into 8 wedges
Break or cut the bread into large chunks and place in a food processor. Process until the bread is reduced to fine crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a large bowl and stir in the cheese, oregano, and parsley. Gradually add 3 tablespoons of oil, stirring, until thoroughly combined. Season with the salt and pepper.
Spread the flour on a large plate, place the eggs in a shallow bowl, and spread the seasoned bread crumbs on a second large plate. Coat each veal cutlet in the flour, then the beaten eggs, and then the bread crumbs, patting with the palm of your hand to ensure adhesion.
Heat 1 cup of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high flame (to a frying temperature of 350 F) and sauté the veal for 2 minutes. Turn and sauté for 1 additional minute. Do not crowd pan. If necessary, fry the cutlets in batches. Remove with a slotted spatula and drain on paper towels. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with lemon wedges.
FRANK’S CLAMS POSILLIPO
32 littleneck clams
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, halved
¼ cup onion, chopped
28 oz can whole plum tomatoes with juice
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
Scrub the clams with a stiff brush, rinse thoroughly in cold water and place in a large pot. Add cold water to just cover (or slightly less) and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the clams open, about 5 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon remove the clams to a large bowl as they open and discard any that do not open.
Strain the cooking liquid though a chinois/strainer lined with a coffee filter. Reserve ¾ cup of the strained cooking liquid.
Return the clams to the pot, add cold water and stir to remove any remaining sand. Drain and reserve clams.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium flame and sauté the garlic halves until golden, about 2 minutes. Remove garlic with tongs and discard. Add the onions to the garlic oil and sauté 3 to 4 minutes, until soft but do not brown. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and add them and their juice to the saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato paste if using and add the basil and 1 tablespoon of parsley. Simmer UNCOVERED 5 minutes.
Add the reserved clam broth and clams to the sauce and bring to boil. Cover the saucepan, reduce heat and simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until the clams are heated through. Spoon the clams and sauce into serving bowls, garnish with remaining parsley and serve immediately with hot crusty bread.
FRANK’S LEMON RICOTTA TORTE
Serves : 8
1 3-pound container whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 extra-large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest from 1 lemon
Butter and flour, for greasing pan
Preheat the oven to 400º F.
In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and juice from the lemon until well blended.
Butter and flour a 9×2-inch round baking pan. Spoon the mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. To prevent the spillage of rising batter over the side of the pan, construct a collar around the pan that extends at least two inches above the top with a sheet of aluminum foil folded in half lengthwise and secured with tape. Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 55 minutes.
Refrigerate for three to four hours. Remove from refrigerator and allow to return to room temperature before serving.
Photos and recipes courtesy of Patsy’s Restaurant.
Aloha! Disney’s next big animated epic Moana (featuring Dwayne Johnson as the famed Hawaiian God Maui himself) comes out November 23. Clever timing not only to release a family friendly movie around the holiday season, but also now that the weather’s getting darker and chillier to beguile audiences with one of the world’s dreamiest tropical location shots. In fact Hawaii has long been the setting for a wide variety of movies including the following.
From Here to Eternity(1953) Fred Zinneman (Oklahoma! High Noon, A Man For All Seasons) directed this adaption of the James Jones novel. The film follows the personal issues of three U.S soldiers stationed on Hawaii in the months leading up to Pearl Harbor. The all-star cast sported Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, and Frank Sinatra as the three men while Deborah Kerr and Donna Reed played the women in the their lives. The supporting cast included Ernest Borgnine, George Reeves, and Claude Akins, among others. Small wonder it was nominated for thirteen Academy Awards and won eight including Best Picture, Best Director, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Frank Sinatra) and Supporting Actress (Donna Reed). It’s also now considered one of the best films ever made and the scene with Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr on the beach is a cultural icon.
Blue Hawaii(1961) First and foremost among Elvis’s legendary Hawaiian films is this musical comedy. Chadwick Gates (Elvis) is a returning veteran whose mother Sarah Lee (Angela Lansbury) wants him to take over the family fruit company. Chad instead goes to work as a tour guide at his girlfriend Maile’s (Joan Blackman) travel agency. Reviews were mixed but the healthy box office receipts inspired the studio to send Elvis back to the Big Island for two more films Girls! Girls! Girls! and Paradise Hawaiian Style. Meanwhile the movie’s soundtrack spent twenty weeks at #1 on the Billboard Pop Album charts and was nominated for a Grammy as well.
The North Shore (1987) Rick Kane (Matt Adler of Flight of the Navigator and White Water Summer) is a teenage kid from Arizona who uses his winnings from a wave tank surfing contest to fly out to Hawaii in hopes of becoming a surfing pro. He quickly learns the real ocean is a lot different than a wave tank and he’s got a lot to learn. Fortunately he comes under the tutelage of legendary soul surfer Chandler (Gregory Harrison). The film has gone on to become a cult hit for its awesome surfing sequences and use of real life professional surfers like Corky Carroll, Gerry Lopez, Laird Hamilton, among many more.
Picture Bride(1995) Kayo Hatta directed and co-wrote the screenplay for Picture Bride with Mari Hatta. It follows a young woman named Riyo (Youki Kodho) who arrives in Hawaii as a “Picture Bride” for a man she’s never met before. To Riyo’s disappointment her intended Matsuji (Akira Takayama) turns out to be considerably older than she anticipated. Meanwhile, racial tensions and labor disputes are rife on the sugar plantation where Riyo and Matsuji work. Critically acclaimed with an over 80% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, it also won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was an Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival.
The Descendants (2011) Alexander Payne (Election, Sideways, Nebraska) directed this comedy-drama starring George Clooney and adapted from the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings. Land Baron Matt King (Clooney) is considering selling a land trust of 25,000 pristine acres his family owns on Kaui. While this is going on his wife Elizabeth is now in a coma because of a tragic boating accident and Matt is shocked to learn from his eldest daughter Alex (Shailene Woodley in the role that launched her career) that his wife was having an affair. It won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and two Golden Globe awards for Best Picture and Best Actor for Clooney.
Considered the “most versatile vocalist of the modern era,” you know that when Linda Ronstadt takes the stage, the crowd will rise, and shake the rafters. That was the case at the Tilles Center, in Brookville, Long Island last Thursday night. She’s not on a concert tour, nor a book tour (her bestselling memoir, Simple Dreams, came out in 2013), and there’s really nothing to “plug,” but it’s just Linda and her fans, who followed her career since the late ‘60s, and continue to support her in this chapter of her career. In 2009, Linda gave her last concert, and announced her retirement; her diagnosis of Parkinson’s the reason. These appearances are being called a “public speaking engagement,” a way to connect with the people she loved singing to, and for.
John Boylan and Linda Ronstadt
Escorted by her longtime manager, John Boylan, Linda sits in front of a large movie screen which allows her career to pass in pictures before our eyes, beginning with her early years, growing up with music all around her, and singing her favorite Mexican tunes with her brothers and sister in their Tucson, Arizona living room. At the age of two, Linda says, “I was told I could sing.” She learned to harmonize with her sister, and it’s the kind of singing she likes best; and the ballad is the preferred choice of song, but, she says, “I knew I’d have to include livelier songs.”
While her siblings went on to other things, Linda kept to the singing and at 17 went to California and began hanging at the famous Troubadour club, meeting other singers, playing with new musicians, and formed The Stone Poneys. Upon the screen comes a black and white photo of Linda at 17 with the 19 year old Jackson Browne, and a few other guys like Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Randy Meisner, who joined her backup band. Her first hit, “Different Drum,” came off the band’s second album. “At one point,” Linda says, “they told me they want to go off to form their own band.” That’s how the Eagles came to be. In 1968, Linda went solo.
Her versatile career took a turn into country music in her collaboration with good friends, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, for two top selling albums, Trio and Trio II. “Emmylou called me up and told me to come over, that Dolly was there. I did, and we sang together and thought, ‘a ha.’ ” At one point in her career, she “wanted to perform on a stage that had a curtain,” which drew a laugh. That desire brought her to the Public Theatre and a role in the hit musical, Pirates of Penzance, with Kevin Kline and Rex Smith, which also took her and her role as Mabel to the movie version. There came a point when she wanted to improve her range and vocal presentation, and knew that with one of the great American standards, there’s no room for error. She called up Nelson Riddle one day and asked if he’d work with her on one of the great classics, like the kind Frank Sinatra sang. “I was hoping he’d work on one song, but he came ready to do a whole album,” she says. “It was the most thrilling thing.”
John Platt and Linda Ronstadt
Of the onset of Parkinson’s, she first noticed it in 2000, “I knew it in my voice. It became more and more difficult to sing, and could only really whisper, and not always stayed in tune.” Appearing healthy and happy now, with a few pounds added to her once slight frame, Linda has, to the audience, come to terms with the diagnosis. In the second part of the night’s event, WFUV-FM radio host John Platt, joined her to do a Q and A with questions already submitted by audience members, covering topics like Was she ever interested in songwriting? “No, though I did write one song, I was never much of a writer, no desire to get into the songwriting business.” What does she do now? “More talking now. When friends come over, we used to sing a lot, now we talk a lot. I’m also interested in what happens with our immigration laws, and protect those who may be affected.” The crowd erupted with approval. Linda is also busy raising her adopted children, Carlos and Mary, and although she’s been linked to some celebrity beaus like George Lucas and Gov. Jerry Brown, had no interest in marrying. She has said, “it was not important to me.”
She can also reflect on a career that “defined a generation,” as one reviewer posted, garnering her multiple Grammy’s; the 2013 election to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (despite her assertion that she was not a rock and roll singer); the Latin Grammy for Lifetime Achievement; and in 2014 at a White House ceremony, President Obama awarded her the National Medal of Arts.
In the opening paragraph of her epilogue, in the memoir, “Simple Dreams,” Linda writes this: “I live these days with my two children, and am watching them navigate the wonderful and strange passage from teenager to young adult. They both play instruments, have a lively and active interest in music, and use it to process their feelings in a private setting. This is the fundamental value of music, and I feel sorry for a culture that depends too much on delegating its musical expression to professionals. It is fine to have heroes, but we should do our own singing first, even if it is never heard beyond the shower curtain.”
On a lovely early autumn Saturday (9/17) The Metropolitan Room hosted its first Pet Cabaret. It may now take a modest bowwow. I have never had much patience for clubbing baby seals; indeed I saw none today at the Met Room. But when it comes to shooting urban animals, photographs that is, I’m your man.
Lee Day, “I’ve Gotta Crow”
Lee Day, sporting Milk Bone earrings and a “Lady and the Tramp” shirt, sang a mixed bag of animal-related numbers and shared bits of her life. She opened with a clean verse of “Let’s Talk Dirty to the Animals” (Michael O Donoghue) made famous, ahem . . . , by Gilda Radner. She sang a bit from “Biscuits are a Dog’s Best Friend” – without apologies to Styne and Robin (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes). Then “I’ve Gotta Crow” (Charlap, Leigh), “Talk to the Animals” (Darin), etc.; you get the idea.
Day’s love of animals has gained her entrée to numerous experiences and celebrities – both before and after achieving some renown. Early in her career she discovered she was a kind of “cat whisperer” when rescuing the feline of an opera singer from a precarious perch. The singer was so grateful that she “gave” Day access to an idol of hers, Doris Day (no relation). Doris Day called Lee Day at an appointed hour and they immediately hit it off over their common cause – talking at length. Doris encouraged Lee to pursue her dream – and she did. They have spoken often since that day.
Lee Day and Metropolitan Room Patrons
Lee grooms, and entertains, pets; indeed, she provides grooming house-calls. She has serviced, so to speak, pets of Frank Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, Joan Rivers and Mary Tyler Moore. She has appeared on television with Regis Philbin, Sally Jesse Raphael and, in England, with Terry Wogan. She was seen on the Terry Wogan show by the Queen and Princess Di who then asked to meet her; Day sang for the princes when they were smaller than she. Day is a proponent of pound puppies and does not subscribe to remote animal care; all animal care should be transparent to owners. All of her grooming comes with pet entertainment, but not all entertainment comes with grooming. For example, Lee does entertain at pet weddings and bark-mitzvahsTM.
Day explained in the course of her show that she suffers from Noonan’s syndrome, a condition affecting her learning capacity as well as her physical state (including, particularly the heart). Still, most of us could benefit from whatever has affected Day’s heart; she is guileless and effusive, and she clearly loves animals. She has built for herself a unique career and a remarkable life and, in the process, gained apparent contentment.
Lee Day and Anna Lively sing “He’s a Tramp”
Lee Day was the name on the show marquee, but she was nicely supported by friend Anna Lively, a regular cabaret performer, who joined Day on stage for a lovely and amusing rendition of “He’s a Tramp” (lyrics by Peggy Lee and Sonny Burke, music by Oliver Wallace with an assist from Peggy Lee, baying by Lee Day). Both were loosely accompanied on the Piano by Jeff Franzel, an uber-able musician who has played with Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme and Les Brown, among others, and now writes songs for the likes of The Temptations, Placido Domingo and Josh Groban, as eclectic a group of performers as one can cram into three personnae.
Following the show, doggy treats were made available (by the Met Room) to all comers. In New York (unless it’s Trump) you blink and you miss it. It was sweet, if a tad sentimental, and it may not come again.